Steelers' Colbert: Mitchell deal sealed Woodley fate
ORLANDO, Fla. — As it turned out, it wasn't Jason Worilds who ended LaMarr Woodley's stay with the Steelers. It was Mike Mitchell.
A month ago, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said it was possible financially to keep both Worilds and Woodley. But when the Steelers committed $25 million to sign Mitchell — even though the free safety is guaranteed only about one-fifth that sum — the flexibility to keep Woodley ended, Colbert said.
“Yeah, we could have (kept them both), but at what cost to the rest of what we're able to do?” Colbert said Sunday at the annual NFL meetings. “When it came down to it, when we really started to analyze where we were going to be … free safety was going to be the first target. When we were able to take care of that, it was going to be hard to keep both LaMarr and Jason.”
Woodley is a former Pro Bowl outside linebacker, while Worilds was a disappointment for 3 1⁄2 seasons before breaking out with seven sacks in the final eight games last season. Still, given Worilds' production outburst and 3½-year age advantage, and Woodley's three successive injury-disrupted seasons, the Steelers are convinced they made the right choice.
Woodley has since signed with the Oakland Raiders.
“Jason's coming off a highly productive year, and LaMarr wasn't, and we had to make a tough call,” Colbert said. “But any time you release a guy who's been part of your success, it's never easy, especially when you think that player has football left in him, as we do LaMarr.”
The Steelers designated Worilds as their transition player to keep him for 2014 — it could cost them $9.7 million — but it's likely they'll try to work out a multi-year contract to reduce their salary cap hit.
“We'll see where it goes with the rest of free agency and the draft and if it makes sense for both sides. But when we use the (transition) tag, we always use it with the thought of trying to get him signed to a long-term deal,” Colbert said. “That's certainly our hope, and I believe that's his wish as well. Usually, if you both have the same goal, it will work out at some point.”
Worilds' production took off when he replaced the injured Woodley at left outside linebacker after playing mostly on the right side until then. To coach Mike Tomlin, the switch in sides allowed Worilds to become the pass rusher the Steelers envisioned when they drafted him in 2010.
“I don't know that (Worilds) was any different. I just think the animal that he faces is a different animal,” Tomlin said. “That right tackle is a little different animal than the left tackle. I think if you're really looking for differences in performance or highlighting differences in performance, the true answer might be there as opposed to what Jason is doing.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.